Council chief defends library cuts proposal

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LABOUR have attacked Tory proposals to cease using paid staff to run the borough’s mobile library service.

Trafford’s Labour group have said the proposed cut, which featured in the council's 2011 draft budget, is a blow for the most vulnerable members of society, including the disabled, who rely on the doorstep provision for access to Trafford’s library services.

Under Tory plans the mobile library would be soley manned by volunteers, transferring where possible the existing employees to other post within the council to avoid redundancies.

Speaking to Messenger, deputy leader of the council, Cllr Alex Williams, said the service last year had just 1,100 users, half of whom had also used static libraries in the last year. He also said the council’s existing home delivery service, where books are chosen by users and then posted straight to their doors, was a viable alternative.

He added: “There’s some very good examples of volunteers delivering a mobile library service around the UK. In Cornwall the council has a partnership with a volunteer group who deliver books to over a 1,000 users. It’s that kind of model we could have here in Trafford.

“I can also categorically say we have no plans to close any static library,” he added.

But leader of the Labour group, Cllr David Acton, told SUM there were many questions the council had to answer. “The mobile library has over 1,200 members and is an invaluable service, particularly for young parents with children, older people and people with mobility problems. For them this service a life line not only for information, but learning and enjoyment of books.

“But this is a specialist service, and people with disabilities need specialist support. I don’t know if volunteers could offer that support in the same way it’s given now.

“You also have to find the volunteers. Where are they and what training will they be given and by who? There’s a lot of unanswered questions.

He added: “There are a lot of people who use this service and to abolish it in this way I think is just wrong.”

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